If you’re an open-minded traveler on a budget, then Couchsurfing is the #1 site you need to know! While hostels and Airbnb often offer great low-cost options, there is nothing that comes close to the price of Couchsurfing...which is totally free!
Free? What’s the catch?
Couchsurfing is a fantastic platform that connects you with locals around the world who are willing to open up their homes to you. You can often read through hundreds of profiles of other open-minded travelers in the city you will be traveling to and send a request to those you vibe with asking to ‘surf their couch’—or to simply meet up if staying with a stranger feels too strange for you.
The genuine Couchsurfing host does this out of the goodness of his/her heart and expects nothing in return but your gratitude and company. As with any host, a postcard or trinket from your home country is generally well-received as would be an invitation to treat them to a dinner, drinks, event, etc. Use your common sense and etiquette but know that there is not some unwritten rule that you actually have to pay this person (in money or otherwise).
Normally, the kind of people who host are simply outgoing folks who are happy to show you around their town and include you in whatever plans they have that weekend. While it’s not required that you spend your entire stay with them, the idea is to usually connect and get to know each other, so be sure you’re open to socializing if you decide to Couchsurf!
How Safe Is It?
Of course, when you throw out the idea of staying with a stranger for free, many of us get skeptical; I know this is a concern for solo female travelers especially. In my personal experience, I’ve never had a single problem or uncomfortable moment, but that’s also because I’m conscientious about who I stay with. Here are my top tips for ensuring you have a safe experience as well:
The blog posts featured in this section are written by friends we've made around the globe that want to share their experiences, lessons they've learned, and tips and tricks.